Bergen, Bogart, Nouri in Negotiations for Wildhorn's Camille Claudel; Dendy Choreographs

News   Bergen, Bogart, Nouri in Negotiations for Wildhorn's Camille Claudel; Dendy Choreographs Polly Bergen, Matt Bogart, Milo O'Shea and Michael Nouri are in negotiations for roles in the new Frank Wildhorn-Nan Knighton musical, Camille Claudel, which debuts Aug. 14-Sept. 7 at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre.

A Goodspeed spokesman said no contracts are signed, but confirmed the stars are being wooed for the project. Nouri (Victor/Victoria) would play sculptor Auguste Rodin, lover of sculptress Camille Claudel, played by Linda Eder. Wildhorn (The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War, Jekyll & Hyde) handles music, with Knighton (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Saturday Night Fever) penning book and lyrics.

Bergen appeared recently in Broadway's Follies and Cabaret. Bogart is currently Lancelot in Camelot at Paper Mill: The State Theatre of New Jersey. Milo O'Shea is the character actor who earned Tony nominations for Staircase and Mass Appeal.

Mark Dendy will choreograph and Gabriel Barre directs the new musical, which is aimed at Broadway for spring 2004, though there has been no official announcement about that (if the show goes beyond Goodspeed, it's expected to be produced by Clear Channel). Wildhorn also has a staging of Dracula in the wings.

Barre and Dendy worked together on the Off-Broadway production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party.

The summer tryout plays the intimate Terris in Chester, CT, where shows are not reviewed because the space is devoted to developing new works (in front of a paying audience of subscribers). "A woman who broke all the rules, Camille Claudel found her passion for sculpting in the late 1800s, with Auguste Rodin as her mentor," according to the Goodspeed announcement. "With humor and a boundless zest for life, Claudel enchanted Rodin to become his mistress and muse, turning what began as pure love into a stormy journey to discover where the line between lover and competitor is drawn."

Eder, the belter some compare to Streisand, made her Broadway debut as Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde. For her work, she earned the Theatre World Award for Best Broadway Debut as well as the Drama Desk and Outer Critics' Circle Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical. She has recorded seven solo records and plays concerts around the country.

Nan Knighton received a 1998 Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical for The Scarlet Pimpernel. She also wrote the stage adaptation for Robert Stigwood's Saturday Night Fever.

Isabelle Adjani played the artist in a 1988 French film, "Camille Claudel."

The artist is also the subject of another musical being developed by Connecticut composer-lyricist-librettist Lori McKelvey, who won the 2002 Kleban Award for her libretto to Camila, seen at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre in fall 2001. Her version is called M. Claudel.

Wildhorn's collaborators on Dracula are Don Black and Christopher Hampton.

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Goodspeed Musicals also announced the new musical, Stand by Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story, to play the Norma Terris May 15-June 8.

The third staging in the Goodspeed Norma Terris season will be the Joe DiPietro-Michael Valenti musical, O. Henry's Lovers, a merging of three short stories, Nov. 13-Dec. 7.

Opened in 1984, the Terris is a place where paying audiences see full productions of works in progress. The creative team usually stays in residence, tweaking and changing a show when possible or necessary. Critics are not invited, and stay away in an unusual gentlemen's agreement.

All three Terris shows are directed by Barre, who helmed Goodspeed's Summer of 42, King of Hearts, Sweeney Todd, Finian's Rainbow, Houdini, Dorian, Fanny Hill and Honky-Tonk Highway.

Tickets are currently available only by purchasing advance season subscriptions for The Norma Terris Theatre through the box office (860) 873-8668. Visit www.goodspeed.org.